"THE FIRST" IN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL HISTORY
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL IN BRIEF    NO. 11

Since the establishment of the Legislative Council in 1843, there have been "many firsts" throughout the history of the Hong Kong Legislature. The "many firsts" reflect the evolution of the Legislative Council over the past one and a half centuries from being an advisory body to a fully-elected Legislature with powers and functions to render checks and balances on the executive authorities.

Year
Event
1843
Founding of the Legislative Council in June 1843. The Letters Patent, also entitled the Charter of the Colony of Hong Kong, empowered the Governor to make and enact laws and ordinances with the advice of the Legislative Council.
1844
The first meeting of the Legislative Council was held on 11 January 1844 with three Official Members (including Governor Sir Henry Pottinger who was the President of the Legislative Council ("the President") and Member). Sir Henry Pottinger, the first Hong Kong Governor in 1843 - 1844 (Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)Sir Henry Pottinger, the first Hong Kong
Governor in 1843 - 1844
(Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)
The first Hong Kong Ordinance, Ordinance No. 1 of 1844, relating to slavery was passed on 28 February 1844.
1845
The first Standing Orders and Rules for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong were adopted on 7 March 1845 "for ensuring punctuality of attendance of the Members… and maintaining order and method in the despatch of business and in the conduct of all debates."
1850
The first two Unofficial Members were appointed to broaden community representation in the Hong Kong Legislature.
1858
The abstract of Proceedings of the Legislative Council was first published in The Hong Kong Government Gazette ("Gazette") in January 1858.
Government estimates were submitted to the vote of the Legislative Council for the first time. This marked the beginning of the Legislature having the power to control public expenditure.
1867
The first Budget speech was delivered by the Governor on 30 August 1867.
1875
The first Chinese name of the Legislative Council, 定例局 (Teng Lai Kuk), was published in Gazette on 2 January 1875.
1880
The first Chinese Unofficial Member, Ng Choy (also known as Wu Ting-fan), was appointed.Ng Choy (1842 - 1922) (Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)Ng Choy (1842 - 1922)
(Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)
1882
The first legislative session opened with a Governor's Address. The Governor's Address, which presented a review of the situation of Hong Kong in 1881, was delivered on 7 February 1882.
1884
The committee system was first stipulated in the Standing Orders and Rules of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong 1884. There were two types of committees: special committees and standing committees.
1888
The Legislative Council with law-making power for the first time. The Letters Patent was amended in 1888 to require the Governor to seek not only the advice but also the consent of the Legislative Council in enacting laws.
1890
Hong Kong Hansard known to be first published. Hong Kong Hansard is the official verbatim report of the proceedings of the Council meetings.
1946
The Legislative Council resumed its first post-war sitting on 1 May 1946 after the surrender of Japan.
1963
The Office of the Unofficial Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils ("UMELCO") was established to promote closer relationships between members of the public and the Unofficial Members of the two Council.The emblem of UMELCOThe emblem of UMELCO
1965
The first female Unofficial Member. Mrs. Ellen Li Shu-pui was appointed as Unofficial Member.Mrs. Ellen Li Shu-pui (1908 - 2005) (Courtesy of Dr. Ellen Li Charitable Foundation)Mrs. Ellen Li Shu-pui (1908 - 2005)
(Courtesy of Dr. Ellen Li Charitable
Foundation)
1972
Chinese was first used at sittings of the Legislative Council. Chinese, other than English, could be used at Council sittings, with simultaneous interpretation first provided on 18 October 1972.
1976
First "grassroots" Legislative Council Member. Wong Lam, an employee of the Kowloon Motor Bus Company, was appointed as Unofficial Member. Wong Lam (1919 - ) (Courtesy of Wong Lam)Wong Lam (1919 - )
(Courtesy of Wong Lam)
Introduction of a remuneration system for Members.
1985
The first Legislative Council Building. The former Supreme Court building, opened in 1912, was converted into the home of the Legislative Council. Before 1985, the Legislative Council met at the Legislative Council Chamber in the Main Wing of the Central Government Offices.The former Legislative Council BuildingThe former Legislative Council Building
The first batch of Members returned by indirect elections. Among the 24 elected Members, 12 were returned by 12 Electoral College constituencies, consisting of members of District Boards, the Urban Council and the Provisional Regional Council. Another 12 were returned by functional constituencies which were made up of members of various professions.
1991
The first batch of Members returned by direct elections. Eighteen elected Members were returned by nine geographical constituencies under a one-man-one-vote system. Among the 18 elected Members, Emily Lau Wai-hing was the first female Member returned by direct election.Emily Lau Wai-hing was the first female Member returned by direct electionEmily Lau Wai-hing was the first female
Member returned by direct election
1993
The first non-civil servant President. Sir John J. Swaine was elected the President of the Legislative Council from among Unofficial Members. This ended the Governor's presidency in the Legislative Council since 1843, as stipulated in Article 5 of Royal Instructions 1843.Sir John J. Swaine (1932 - 2012) (Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)Sir John J. Swaine (1932 - 2012)
(Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)
1994
The Legislative Council exercised the power conferred by the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to compel witnesses to attend an inquiry, the first time since the enactment of the Ordinance in 1985.
1995
The first fully-elected Legislature. Among the 60 Members in the Legislative Council, 30 came from functional constituencies, 20 were returned by direct elections in geographical constituencies, and 10 were elected by the Election Committee constituency. The President was elected from among the Members.
1997
The first female President. Mrs. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai was elected the President of the Provisional Legislative Council at the Council's first meeting held on 25 January 1997 in Shenzhen.Mrs. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the first female President of the Hong Kong Legislature (Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)Mrs. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the first female
President of the Hong Kong Legislature
(Courtesy of the HKSAR Government)
1998
The Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("HKSAR") was established under the Basic Law. The elections for the First Legislative Council of the HKSAR were held on 24 May 1998.
The first meeting of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR was held on 2 July 1998.
The first Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("RoP") were adopted on 2 July 1998 in pursuance of Article 75 of the Basic Law.
2009
The first time that an application for judicial review was filed by witnesses of the Select Committee to Inquire into Matters Relating to the Post-service Work of Mr LEUNG Chin-man against the power of the select committee authorized by the Legislative Council in accordance with RoP.
The Court of First Instance subsequently confirmed that the Legislative Council had the requisite power of delegation and that the power given to it under Article 73(10) of the Basic Law to summon witnesses could be delegated to its committees.
2010
The first time that a special meeting of the Legislative Council was convened during the recess under Rule 15(2) of RoP. The special meeting was convened on 2 September 2010 to debate the motion on "The incident of a Hong Kong tour group being taken hostage in the Philippines".
2011
The relocation of the Legislative Council to the Legislative Council Complex ("Complex") at Tamar in October 2011. The Complex is the first purpose-built building to house the Hong Kong Legislature, the construction of which commenced in 2008 and was completed in 2011.The Legislative Council ComplexThe Legislative Council Complex
2012
The first time that the President invoked Rule 92 of RoP at the Council meeting held on 16 May 2012 to end the joint debate at the Committee Stage of the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012.

Last updated: January 2014

Legislative Council Secretariat
Education Service Team
www.legco.gov.hk
Apr 2015

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